by Jo French
7th March 2017
The first Saturday of the month is always marked on the calendar: **MARKET**
I don’t want to miss it, but often do and I’ve been known to harbour that disappointment for several hours upon realising the day or time has passed.
All other plans for the day are made around this all-important trip to the market.
I phoned a couple of friends, set up the rendezvous point and we met, with kids in tow, to wander along the river.
I’m sure most readers have enjoyed the market walk so I will not go into details of stalls and stallholders, sights and sounds.
You know it well. But this particular market trip stands out amongst others.
We set off with the idea that the children, four of them, aged between six and nine, would be happy souls, wandering under gum trees with money in pockets and the promise of frozen yoghurt to spur them on if they grew weary.
We had visions of children skipping through the dust under a canopy of gum trees, happy to be beyond walls.
It didn’t take long before this vision of ‘free range’ had turned into the dusty reality of hot and grumpy children, and the coffee van seemed to be an ever moving mirage, just out of reach.
Our dreams of being earth mothers wandering by the river were fading with each utterance from the mouths of our babes.
We didn’t walk the full stretch of the market last month, although we did make it to coffee, run into friends and join the queue at the frozen yoghurt van.
As we headed to our cars we laughed at ourselves, we are just not the earth mother type.
Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be amused – Proverb
In the weeks since this market trip I have been pondering the idea of “the absence of annoyance”, a phrase often linked to the Danish concept of ‘Hygge’, pronounced ‘hue-gah’, that is described as the philosophy of enjoying life’s simple pleasures.
The “absence of annoyance” is a place in which we can reside between ease and effort. Where gritted teeth are replaced by a calm breath — an eternal yoga session.
Grace seems to be the key to this place of residence, grace in movement, in thought and in response.
Effort is required, but, as in all things worthwhile, the more I practice this mindset, the easier it is becoming.
I observed our household one afternoon, I sat back deliberately and listened to everyone interacting; I heard in them what I hear so often in myself — annoyance.
I listed the things that annoy each of us all regularly: the dog that is underfoot as we work in the kitchen, is also the dog that greets us when we walk in the door and sleeps at the feet of the one that is burning the midnight oil; the child that causes me to grit my teeth is also the one that hangs on for a longer cuddle at the end of the day; the dishes left on the dining table are evidence that someone has stopped awhile and been at home rather than rushing out the door.
We don’t want to take away the things that are annoying us, for life would be lonely, that I am certain of, instead I choose the absence of annoyance.
Next, I decided to tackle rush.
The idea is not new, I know, but it’s new to me.
Deciding not to rush to the next task but instead to stay focussed on what is at hand, is, I can honestly report, keeping my heart rate down a little.
This insight came after spending time with my 23-year-old daughter recently.
We had gone supermarket shopping together and I heard myself say in so many different ways, hurry up; I used “come on”, “let’s go”, “you go get this, I will get that”, “let’s get this over and done with,” and other phrases that maybe you have used too.
We rushed, we sighed impatiently at the queue at the checkout, (how dare everyone else be shopping at the same time we are), we loaded and unloaded, then moved on to the next thing in our day.
Later, I reflected on the shopping trip and realised that it was more about spending a few hours with her than getting the job done.
We don’t shop together very often, actually we don’t do a lot together these days.
I was thinking over how that time could have been different had I switched off ‘rush’, all that was needed was a little tweak.
So next market day my friends and I will meet up again to grab a coffee and wander – with kids in tow – I’ll let you know how it goes.